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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  December 20, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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pen. with the uncapped pen where it had been sitting for 25 years and after 25 years it writes fine. do you want evidence? they wrote with it and took pictures of it and published it in case reports. a black felt tip pen can be kept for 25 years if you uncap it, swallow it, and keep it in your stomach. now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." and now some republicans are actually saying it out loud. as long as the crazy republican house of representatives delays the payroll tax cut, democrats are winning. >> we are looking at 11 days before people will see a raise in tax. >> they have a lump of coal. >> i think the president should attend and brought mr. boehner and mr. reid down to the white house, pulled out "it's a
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wonderful life" dvd and -- >> are you kidding with this? >> we cannot go into this holiday season without helping our unemployed brothers and sisters. >> all of a sudden the republicans are on the other side. >> a washington stalemate. >> he's not happy about the house republicans. >> they refer to what they are doing as high-stake poker. >> mumbo jumbo. >> the clock is ticking. time is running out. >> what is happening here today is shameful. it is a disgrace. it is unreal. it is unbelievable. we don't believe speaker boehner has any good faith left. >> the person in the hot seat seems to be speaker boehner. >> i need the president to help out. okay? >> the president is not and should not be a marriage counselor between senate
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republicans and house republicans. >> overall, voters are trusting obama and the white house more to handle taxes, to handle the economy. >> this is the walk away caucus with a walk away leadership. >> on a system that our founders gave us. >> where is the compassion? where is your heart? where is your soul? the republican war on republicans continues. the house of representatives continues to hurt the republican party every day in every way that it can. here's how far the crazies in the republican party have pushed republican senator scott brown. it angers me that house republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions. their actions will hurt american families and be detrimental to our fragile economy. and here's how fox news wiseman,
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charles, assesses the state of play in the house of representatives. >> what the democrats have succeeded in doing is to of the upper hand in the initiative. if the republicans leave now, things as they are, the democrats are not going to save the republicans and save the house. they are going to do nothing. we are going to go to january 1, there will be a tax hike, the end of a holiday tax hike imposed every day and they will be hammering on the republicans in the house and ultimately the republicans will cave. >> the republican house stubbornly refused again to vote on the tax cut that passed the senate with 89 votes, including 39 republican senate votes. democratic leader nancy pelosi says she knows why. >> that's why they didn't give us a chance to vote on the senate bill. they are afraid they would lose. >> this afternoon, president
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obama interrupted the white house briefing to ask house republican leaders for a vote on the senate bill. >> right now the bipartisan compromise that was reached on saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on january 1st. it's the only one. the house republicans say they don't dispute the need for a payroll tax cut. what they are really trying to do, what they are holding out for, is to bring concessions on democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut. issues where the parties fundamentally disagree. put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreements and come together on something we agree on. and let's not play brinksmanship. i'm calling to bring up a vote and give the american people the
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assurance they need in this holiday season. >> and here was john boehner's reply to the president. >> now it's up to the president to show real leadership. he says that he won't leave town for the holidays until this bill is done. and the next step is clear. i think president obama needs to call on senate democrats to go back into session, move to go to conference, and to sit down and resolve this bill as quickly as possible. >> joining me now is howard fineman, the editorial director for "the huffington post" and an msnbc political analyst. when you see scott brown, an endangered republican in massachusetts, a senator condemning the senate house of representatives, it doesn't get worse. >> he's a canary in the coal mine but he's only the first of many. i think we're going to hear people say publicly what they
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have been saying privately, which is madness. now, the house republicans and the caucus and they are about to run over a cliff because they've got the politics all wrong on this one. they've made the president look weak in the past. the president has given concession after concession. this is the politics are all wrong for them and as you know, lawrence, often in washington, the thing you hear the most arguing about is not what the argument's really about. the argument here is what the tea party caucus wants by way of spending cuts and policy changes to pay for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut. they want tough means testing of medicare. they want to change a bunch of
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environmental rules. they want the keystone pipeline. they want a pay freeze for federal employees. they want all of this other stuff that supposedly was put aside, that was put aside by the president and harry reid and mitch mcconnell and john boehner for two months worth of kicking the can down the road. the tea party's saying, no, no, we want the whole thing. this is our last chance to get the whole thing. we want the spending cuts, we want the policy changes and in the process of pushing for that, they are going to take the republican party over the edge of a cliff because what the president wants to do and what david pluf, his political adviser told me they want to do is to show that not all of washington is broken. that the part of washington that is broken is the congress and, more particularly, the republicans and more particularly the house republicans and the republicans are in the process of proving david pluff right on this one. >> and here's how president obama put it in his recent "60 minutes" interview.
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>> if i can't get republicans to move, partly because they've made a political strategic position to say anything obama's for, we're against, because that's our best chance of winning an election, i don't think the american people would see that as a failure on my part. >> howard, the other dynamic at work here is that the republicans in the house are in the process of losing their tax cutting brand to the president in this washington post poll. >> right. >> we have now it shows the president leads congressional republicans, 46 to 41% on the question of who do you trust on taxes. and just in october that was the congressional republicans ahead of the president, 46 to 39. the genius of all of this politically in the way that the democrats have positioned it in the congress is that what -- if the senate bill came to a vote in the house and if john boehner
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wanted to stop it, he would be asking his people to violate their pledge to grover norquist because they would be voting in effect against a tax cut. >> yes, exactly. and what's happened since the fall is i think the president finally broke through on the question of isn't it fair, isn't it just, and isn't it practical to ask the richest 300,000 families and individuals, the millionaires and billionaires to pay a surtax so that middle class people, working people can get an extension of a payroll tax cut? and, now, the president yielded on the surtax but the republicans don't know when to declare victory in this one and, as i say in the past, in the last year they prospered from making the president look weak and not in command. here they are taking it politically a step too far because they are undercutting their own brand. that's what happened in the last
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couple of months. that's why the president looks more reasonable and they look absolutely like zellets on this one. >> howard fine man, thank you for joining me tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. coming up, the crazy house republicans on their way to handing the speaker's gavel back to nancy pelosi? political expert norm joins me on the most unpopular congress ever and how the tea party may just hand the house back to the democrats. and later, rick santorum has his first good day in the race and my fight with jon stewart is in the rewrite tonight. the guy has gone too far tonight. he has to be stopped. that's coming up. falling ♪ ♪ i think i'm falling ♪ i think i'm falling [ male announcer ] this is your moment. ♪ for you [ male announcer ] this is zales, the diamond store. take an extra 10 percent off
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what is happening here today is shameful. it's a disgrace. >> that's how we got a constitution. nobody was happy with that constitution. they didn't get everything they want and you're not going to get everything you want. so you better get it out of your head right now. >> folks are mad out there. they are mad because what congress is doing or not doing in many cases makes absolutely no sense. >> a new gallup poll shows congresses' approval rating has hit an all-time low. gallup senator in chief frank
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newpo newport suggests that 2011 will be remembered as which the american public lost any remaining faith in the men and women they elect and second off to washington to represent them. norm, what interests me about this low approval rating of congress is how does it affect the upcoming congressional election for the body -- and does -- is it your sense that it applies to both bodies equally, senate and the house, or do you have a sense that the public is distinguishing here? >> i think the public will distinct wish now with the latest move. we have finished a manuscript for a new book which is called "it's even worse than it looks" and it is true. this has been bad. no wonder people are angry.
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the latest action by the house republicans is going to crystallize things and with senate republicans, prominent on ones criticizing them, i think it gives people a focal point, other than the diffuse anger than they've had. >> it looks very dangerous to be republican control. it looks like a really good posture for the democrats to have them, especially when you look at inside the gallup poll. there is always this thing about congress, yeah, we hate congress but not now. it says only 39% said that they would re-elect their current representative. that's usually way over 50%. that was, you know, back in december they said 53% that -- of them said that their member deis he everybodiy deserves
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re-election but now it's down to 39. i think we have the wrong graphic in terms of what we're putting up. >> yep. >> but this is an unprecedented situation for the incumbents. >> it is. what is going to be interesting is to see how many of them really get nervous about it. for republicans in the house, what they have been banking on was redistricting, shoring up many of their more vulnerable freshman members and leaving them with a firewall. so they've got a 25-seat cushion. maybe they lose 15 or 20 seats. i think that number now is very possibly certainly the ones that are in jeopardy, going to go up significantly. and keep in mind as well that for a lot of these republicans, the real challenge remains in the primary and some of the tea party freshman, they find that their challenge from the right, pulling them even further to the right, which is likely to leave that party isolated even more as we get further into next year
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unless somehow john boehner can figure out a way to work with his other members of the leadership or maybe abandon some of his own members and go for bipartisan compromises, which doesn't look likely at the moment. >> norm, does anyone in washington think that the payroll tax cut is not going to be extended? and, in other words, does anyone in washington think that the exercise that the house republicans are going through now is futile and only hurting them? >> i don't think anybody believes that ultimately we're not going to extend this. i think there's a very real possibility that we will go beyond january 1 and have to do a little patching along the way and that is a danger here. you know, if the republicans let this go on and don't find a face saving way out and there's an obvious one, which is to say, all right, we'll go along with this, but we want to guarantee that we'll come right back and negotiate for the full year, which was going to happen anyhow, but if they don't do that and they decide to proceed
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with this game of chicken, it's de ja vu all over again and it's shutting down the government in 1995 and into 1996 and having it backfire on them and then they are going to have to scramble and it will be very interesting to see whether having whipped up their own fringe, if they are able to abandon them or tell them, oops, we made a mistake. that's not going to be easy. >> norm with the american enterprise institute, thank you for joining me. >> my pleasure, lawrence. count me in for five desks. >> okay, norm. thank you very much. i appreciate it. the only candidate who was ducking in the news is now doing them everywhere he can. from letterman to morning joe. is that the type of advertising that mitt romney is running. and later, why jon stewart is wrong. why he needs to be stopped. that's tonight's "rewrite."
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the school had no desks in it before we started the fund. now each classroom has desks and each one of these kids is sitting at a desk for the first time. we just can't thank you enough and the kids thank you, too. well, exactly two weeks to go before the iowa caucus. newt gingrich is begging the republican field to stop attacking him. good luck with that. and in the rewrite tonight, we have got to do something about jon stewart. he is now completely out of control. we've got to stop him. it might be time for an intervention on jon stewart. that's in the rewrite. [ sponge ] the prognosis is bleak. you may need to soak overnight.
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today on the campaign trail, the formerly calm, cool, and collected newt gingrich was mad. he was mad because he asked the other candidates not to talk about all the reasons why newt shouldn't be the nominee and the candidates campaign and their super pacs continue for some strange reason, to run attack ads against newt, ads like this one from a pro romney super pac. >> more baggage than the airlines. gingrich cashed in. freddie mac paid newt gingrich $30,000 an hour. $1.6 million. and newt is the only speaker in history to be reprimanded. he was fined $300,000 for ethic violations by a republican congress. newt gingrich, too much baggage. today, poor newt, tried to
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find a christmas tree to hide behind. he asked with a straight face on a radio station in iowa, how can you run negative ads three or four days before christmas? later gingrich said that romney should tell pro romney super pacs to stop doing exactly what they are designed to do. >> this afternoon when one of you gets condemned, i asked the super pac to only run positive ads, simple. anything short of that is baloney. we understand this is baloney, his people running his ads doing his dirty work while he pretends to be above it. >> mitt romney said that he can't stop the super pac ads unless he wants to campaign from a jail cell. >> i'm not allowed to
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communicate with a super pac in any way, shape, or form. if we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we he go to the big house. >> today, iowa evangelical leader bob, endorsed rick santorum. citing a source familiar with the conversation that vanderplatts called michele bachmann and urged her to drop out of the race and endorse sar f santorum. newt gingrich and mitt romney are tied for the lead nationally. ron paul is third with 15% in a national cbs poll out today, ron paul is fifth behind undecided and someone else. gingrich and romney split the lead in that one with 20% each. joining me now from iowa, chief political correspondent for the "new york times" magazine, matt,
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in iowa, is the television campaign primarily anti-gingrich? and for iowans sitting at home, what do they get the most from tv? >> well, i'm not sitting at home watching television with iowans but they are being barraged with this message that emphasizes all of the past stuff on gingrich that frankly didn't come up when he was a candidate and it's taking some toll. it's registering with some voters and as you mentioned in your intro, he's quite livid about it. >> matt, let's look at newt's strategy for fighting back. let's look at his television ad in iowa. >> is there anything more inspiring than american towns and neighborhoods brightly lit
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for the holidays? >> we take it as a sign of great optimism. it reminds us of the fight for a freedom that burns bright and the goodness of our nation will be rewarded with peace and brotherhood. >> from our house to yours, merry christmas from our house to yours. >> matt, what do iowans see when they see callista gingrich in that ad and who looks at her and says, oh, yeah, you're the one who stole him from his second wife? >> i can't answer that question. that ad is what is commonly known as doubling down on -- in this case, on a positive sentiment. there's obviously no substance to it. newt gingrich really likes this. i think he warms to this narrative because he does see himself as a statesman like figure in the mold of a
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churchill or reagan who he emulates. he's always fighting this notion that he's sort of a low-ball tack tigs. he likes the taking the high road and he's making a virtue of necessary see. he doesn't have the resources to fight back against this kind of blistering ad barrage. instead, he's trying to make the negative ads themselves the issue and frame a really close choice between establishment and negative ads as usual and it's the only avenue open to him, quite frankly. >> do the other candidates, besides romney, are they worried that in effect the damage that they are doing to gingrich is handing this to mitt romney? >> well, i don't think so. i think that what everybody who is not mitt romney sees as the dynamic here is that somebody,
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if tradition holds true, has to emerge as the anti-romney, the anti-establishment candidate, there has to be another gate there to run against romney. the question is, who comes out of the contest to consolidate all of that support and all of that money going into the rest of the primaries and caucuses. so they will hurt each other now even if it hurts romney in the short run because what everybody wants to do is eliminate the nonromney economy fors. that has become the campaign. >> joining us from the battlefield in des moines, iowa, thank you for joining us, matt. >> any time. thanks, lawrence. up next, in the rewrite, why jon stewart is in danger of hurting himself and everyone around him. the man really has to be stopped. that's going to be next. and, later, help with your last minute christmas shopping.
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newt gingrich, how about that guy? i mean, this guy, he is demanding that the judges be arrested. he's threatening that we could drest judges. for you.
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in tonight's rewrite, we have a problem. in direct opposition to the position of this show, jon stewart is urging republican primary voters to rewrite their notion of anyone but romney into anyone but gingrich. he thinks that it means the republican party has hit rock bottom and needs an intervention. it's not the republicans who need an intervention. it's jon stewart. the man has got to be stopped and nothing proves that better than his attempt to stop republican voters for voting for gingrich. >> this is an intervention. it's why we are all right now at the caucus hampton in. everyone is here because they
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love you. tom, why don't you start us off, tom? >> i'm not inclined to be a supporter of newt gingrich having served under four years and experienced personally his leadership. >> why is that? >> because i find it lacking. >> oklahoma, you can't even find people with blue eyes in oklahoma. he's so conservative, he wants to protest against seeing shielder list on tv because of the nudity. that's true. the nudity. that's what strikes us as obscene in shind letter's list. we listen to this guy? >> you know, he's been out of government for a long time. he's reattached himself to his faith. >> first of all, he's reattached himself to his faith? and second of all, the only
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faith that gingrich has attacked himself to is the belief in the infall built of the gingrich. this is him last month. >> i am much like reagan and margaret thatcher. you really need to design a you a neek campaign that fits the way i operate and what i'm trying to do. >> donald trump called and he wants his irrational ego back. what you going to do? would anyone else like to speak directly to the republican electorate and convince them? >> newt gingrich cares about newt gingrich. >> i don't know how he can be considered a conservative. >> i don't think he has the discipline or capacity to control himself and can't stay focused. >> that's who you're going to nominate for president? can't control himself. can't stay focused. too erratic. that's usually followed by the
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phrase, and he's disruptive. do you get it? are you seeing what is going on here? i see someone else wants to speak. you've had your hand up for a while. >> he is not a nice human being. he is a bad person. is he a terrible person. he dehumanizes people. >> yes, yes, he's terrible. we get it. blo look, gop, i can't make you not choose newt gingrich, but before you make any decision, there is one more person who wants to say something. someone who is literally because it's so important and if you don't think you've hit rock bottom yet, maybe you will now.
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>> is there any way that beck can be behind gingrich. >> glenn beck cannot support newt gingrich. >> okay, jon. look at the polls. if gingrich goes down, we're getting romney. you think we've got a year of romney votes in you? you don't. mormon jokes, forget about it. matt and tray used up all of the good ones. you have got to face the truth, jon. ne mitt romney is the worst thing that could happen to america. i'm telling you, you want newt. you think romney's ever going to say anything like this? >> there is a gay and secular fascism in that country that wants to impose on us. >> no way romney is going to say
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that. you need newt. you need anyone but romney. >> education, the -- commerce and, let's see, i can't -- oops. >> i'm not a politician. >> i can get you a gallon of gasoline for a dime. >> jon, you need a nut to get the republican nomination. you should be begging republican voters to give us newt. jon, stop lashing out at republican voters. they are only trying to help you. they really are. they love you. they really do. you are the most beloved news man in america. we all want what is best for you. think about your wife, your children, think about what it will be like for them when you come home from another day of working on romney jokes. think about your writers. they know they can't win more economy me's with romney jokes.
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think about comedy in america. use your well-deserved holiday vacation to think about all of this. think about what is best for you. and, yes, think about what's best for america. and when you come back in january, root for newt. i had a heart problem. i was told to begin my aspirin regimen. i just didn't listen until i almost lost my life. my doctor's again ordered me to take aspirin. and i do. [ male announcer ] be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. [ mike ] listen to the doctor. take it seriously. i'd like a decaf 360 calories please. i'll have a triple iced 410 calories please. you know what... i'll have this instead. [ female announcer ] swap one thing a day for a yoplait light at around 100 calories. it will add up to amazing.
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okay. you've got four more shopping days until christmas and you're stuck. you don't want to give another itunes card. you want your loved ones to be surprised by your gifts. you want to be creative, you want to give something special. i've got your back on this one. yes, here we go again.
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k.i.n.d. it allows you to give a desk for $48 to anyone on your christmas or hanakuh list. unicef will send a gift list to anyone you want showing you donated a desk in his or her name. you don't even need to know this person. a glenn beck fan, named jim ray, had unicef send me this message. faith without works is dead so thank you for the opportunity to help, jim. $48 buys one of these desks, which is designed for most of the krauded malawi school children as they squeeze on to
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that bench. $720 buys an entire classroom of desks and all of those desks are made in malawi by workers who, thanks to the jobs that these desks provide, are able, often for the first time in their lives, to bring home a steady paycheck and reliably feed their families. the k.i.n.d. program is in a country where jobs have always been scarce and life has always been hard. the k.i.n.d. fund is the most basic and important education program. how important is it? just imagine not having one. not having one every day you are in elementary school and high school. some kids in this country have done that. last year after seeing my first report, high school students in pennsylvania tried sitting on the floor and the strongest and
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most athletic among them had trouble with it. >> i absolutely hated it. i couldn't stand it at all. i was complaining the whole time. i stood up and wanted to leave the room, to be honest with you. and so tonight we are closing in on another huge milestone for the fund. we are now with four shopping days left before christmas close to raising a total of $3 million. as of this hour, we have raised $2,954,042. it's been impossible for me to thank each of you individually on twitter but i'd like to acknowledge you now. i just donated a desk in honor
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of my two amazing sons. on facebook, heather told us, my husband and i have three children ourselves and don't have much to give but we have donated $24 tonight because i couldn't imagine my own children receiving an education in those conditions. a desk costs $48 but you can contribute any amount you want. heather contributed $24 and that will be matched by someone else who contributes $24 and a desk will be built and delivered, thanks to heather. if you contribute $10 and four other people contribute $10, and they will, a desk will be built and delivered. told us this on facebook, this is the second year i've given desks in lieu of wreaths at my
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parents gravesite. bought a desk for my daughter's birthday on christmas eve. she wants to be a doctor in africa some day. thank you. katherine, my niece is a premed student who has already done volunteer work in africa and wants to go back there as a doctor. we have wonderful twitters out there. i love the kind program founded by lawrence. it's the best gift i've bought. alley van zee says i wasn't in the christmas spirit at all. then i watched the last word. how can you not be infused by the spirit of giving when you see those kids. and in case you were wondering how cool the k.i.n.d. fund is, i just gave 30 kids in malawi school desks. you can, too. he is the creative director of milk studios, the place where
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"vogue" shoots its covers. you cannot get cooler than that. i have not asked minute to redirect their charitable giving from something that they consider more worthy or to give more than they can afford. and i can never thank them enough. patrick tweets, lawrence disabled military vet donating $75 to kind. you moved me to tears. no small thk you, sir. and a civilian working for the u.s. navy, i couldn't sit here another night without helping those poor kids. so we donated $100 to k.i.n.d. fund. i'm not sure how long i will be working for the navy, so i figured i better do it now while
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i'm still employed. this is a wonderful thing you're doing for the hopefully i can more in the future. nancy ross is typical of the grandparents we've been hearing from. i was so blown away about your recent video about the kids in need of debts beings that i immediately decided to donate desks in honor of my year i choose a donation to donate in their names. joanne writes, as a retired educator, i have been totally inspired to send donations for desks in the names of all of my nieces and nephews for holiday giftf giving. bev fitzgerald sent us this e-mail this afternoon. i just sent a donation in honor of two friends.
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one who is currently teaching in a school in rural georgia and another who has retired from a lifetime of teaching in rhode island. she and i graduated from teachers prep college together in 1959. i was blessed to be taught by the nuns and have been grateful ever since and they have install stilled in me a love of throughout my life. the nuns taught me how to read and write. they expected much more of me than i was willing to give but they pulled it out of me any way. i wouldn't be sitting here today if the nuns didn't know how to educate wise guys like me and i can still remember very fondly sitting at those magical wooden desks in those nun classrooms. and finally there was this,
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thanks for the opportunity to provide a desk for two children this year. as a retired elementary teacher, i know all too well the importance of desks. having your own private space in a crowded classroom is so important to children. in addition to the obvious learning benefits, students have a place to put their things, learn to respect the privacy of the space and in my classroom, our weekly friday afternoon desk cleaning helps teach organization skills as well as revealing some unexpected treasurers in those desks. i can make no props other than your desks lift off the floor for many years to come. s and that's enough for me. we live in culture that says we should give up our seats on a bus or a subway when someone gets on who needs that seat more
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than we do. you see tough new yorkers every day do that without hesitation. and they don't give up their seat to the elderly man or the pregnant woman forever, they just give it to her for ten minutes, for 15 minutes, for the ride to brooklyn. and we all think that that's worth it. that that's the right thing to do. that it's not just a gesture. that it's a good and right thing. it's what we should do. it's what we need to do. and if that's all we do with the k.i.n.d. fund, if that's it, we just get children off the floor, we should all be proud of what we've done. but miracles can happen in classrooms and they do happen in classrooms every day around the world. maybe in the classroom that your desk is going to next year,
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there is a student sitting on the floor there right now who can't see his teacher, can't hold his head up in the fifth or sixth or self venventh hour to y see what's on the blackboard, to follow what the teacher's saying, can't learn how to write without a hard surface under the paper. when he sits down at your desk, it will feel like you've given him a thrown. he and everyone around him will suddenly have their own little stage suddenly in which to perform. maybe if you gave one of those students clear eye contact with the teacher for the first time, that classroom miracle can happen that changes the unreevable student into the great student. maybe africa's next nelson mandela or a great doctor that africa needs so desperately. over time, hundreds and thousands of kids, possibly even a million, will

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